Meridian: New World is an indie RTS game capable of making you stare in disbelief when you realize it’s been made on the most part… by one man.
The game looks beautiful, very polished and plays great. There’s base building, an array of units to vanquish your enemy and a pretty compelling campaign even if it’s still in progress. New missions however are released frequently (missions 4 and 5 released as I was reviewing), and they not only expand the story but give the player new tactics with which to play. It’s content like this that makes me want to check out future updates, I genuinely want to see what the developer will throw at me next.
So first let’s take a look at the campaign. You take on the role of commander Daniel Hanson leading the first expedition to a new planet named Merdian. What you encounter there isn’t entirely clear but it soon becomes obvious you’re not alone. Not only do you detect a distress signal from the presumed uninhabited planet, but there are troops and structures on the ground. Your crew might not be comprised of ‘your’ crew and things are pretty much going to hell. Not exactly the idea expedition but it makes for one hell of a game.
The game has about 14-16 missions planned so far that clocks in at around 15-20 hours of gameplay. Each of the missions has a different feel, there’s one that’s almost purely tower defense (which I LOVED), and one that has you island hopping with only air units taking out bases for additional resources instead of mining. In between missions you’re presented with an almost Mass Effect style segment where you can browse your ship and chat with the crew, eventually getting to do some investigating and make choices regarding crew members. This was a lovely element to the game and went beyond the standard mission briefing you’d expect from and RTS. The game also features a leveling system that lets you pick abilities for your commander. These range from unit healing, temporary accelerated fire rate of a unit and damage to enemy units.
There’s skirmish mode which’ll let you base build and combat AI to your hearts content. However, the game doesn’t have any form of multiplayer as the developer wants to concentrate on single player content. I honestly don’t feel the lack of multiplier hinders this game at all as it’s not repetitive gameplay and multiplayer isn’t entirely out of the question further down the development path.
The units are interesting because on the most part you’ll be using a standard Mech frame called a Chimera. This unit does all your construction and mining if built with the default mining laser but can be equipped with a wide array of weapons including rockets, ion cannons and sniper lasers. As well as the Chimera you’ll get the chance to build infantry, light and heavy tanks that can heal other units or shield themselves depending on what technology you research and eventually aircraft. Each of these vehicles can be built with whatever weapons you desire just like the chimera so you can focus on splash damage rockets to take out clustered enemies or snipers that take out targets from a distance. Build your army according to your preferred tactics and see what works for you.
The game’s soundtrack is brilliant; Industrial and rocky, capturing the essence of older RTS games like Command and Conquer… and composed by the same guy who developed the game. I’m still shocked how much this guy does and wonder if he’s somehow managed to clone himself. Overall the game is exceptionally well built. Whilst in early access it’s certainly not lacking content and feels more like an entire studio has been working on this for years. I’m not just looking forward to seeing this game finished but also what the developer will do next. A one man army making an indie RTS game this good has endless possibilities in the future.
I’ve also got an interview with the developer about his thoughts on the game that i’ll be posting tomorrow so stick around!
Anyone interested in picking up the game can do so on Steam here.